Youth Partnership Organizations (YPOs)

142 FW 1
FWM Number
Originating Office
Division of Facilities and Operations (NCTC)

1.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter provides information and establishes guidelines for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) employees to use when working with Youth Partnership Organizations (YPO).

1.2 What is the policy?

A. YPOs are organizations with formal outdoor and science-based conservation education programs or employment programs for people ages 0 – 25 years old that can help achieve the Service’s conservation mission.

B. Because such YPOs and their leaders and staff can have a favorable impact on natural resource management, it is the Service’s policy to encourage and support employees to:

(1) Work with and lend support to YPOs,

(2) Foster communications with YPOs and staff, and

(3) Offer guidance for their programs and activities, especially those relating to the conservation and management of our nation's natural resources.

C. The Service will make all resources that it develops for YPO programs available and accessible to the general public as well so as not to be restrictive or preferential to any one group. On-line curriculums, training, and support materials are encouraged to help expand Service-related conservation messages to broader and non-traditional audiences.

1.3 What are the objectives of this policy? Our objectives are to:

A. Provide guidance, opportunities, and leadership in training and program activities related to educational programs about the conservation and management of natural resources;

B. Assist youth members of YPOs and their leaders and staff to identify and locate good sources of science-based natural resource information and provide them with practical opportunities to learn about the outdoors;

C. Encourage Service employees to serve on appropriate YPO advisory or program committees and to serve as volunteer leaders, especially where those activities relate to natural/cultural resource conservation and careers;

D. Give employees official time to serve as consultants to develop YPO program requirements (see section 1.8 for recommendations on the amount of time to allow for YPO program work), that support Service priorities, including, but not limited to:

(1) Connecting people with nature,

(2) Endangered species,

(3) Fisheries and habitat conservation,

(4) Human capital,

(5) Law enforcement,

(6) Migratory birds,

(7) Science excellence,

(8) National wildlife refuges and wetland management districts, and

(9) External affairs; and

E. Allow such organizations, their leaders, and staff to use Service lands and facilities, where mission appropriate and compatible for indoor/outdoor activities and public service projects related to science-based conservation education, natural resource management, and outdoor recreation.

1.4 What are the general parameters for the Service’s involvement in youth programs and activities?

A. In carrying out its youth programs, the Service may:

(1) Provide funding to inclusive Youth Partnership Organizations (YPOs) that do not discriminate based on sex, race, national origin, color, religion, age, disability, political affiliation, status as a parent, or genetic information; and

(2) Provide in-kind support to inclusive YPOs that do not discriminate based on sex, race, national origin, color, religion, age, disability, political affiliation, status as a parent, or genetic information.

B. Allow employees official duty time to directly assist youth who are members of any inclusive YPO in carrying out programs and activities that further the mission of the Service.

(1) The Service may engage any inclusive YPOs or their members on Service lands and facilities in accordance with established public use policies or approved special use. 

(2)  Service employees may attend meetings and events sponsored by YPOs that further the mission of the Service.

1.5 What are the authorities for this chapter?

A. Outdoor Recreation Programs, Powers and Duties of the Secretary of the Interior - Technical Assistance and Advice; Cooperation with States and Private Interests; Research and Education (16 U.S.C. 460L-1(d) & (f)).

B. The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661).  

1.6 Who is responsible for this program? See Table 1-1.

Table 1-1: Responsibilities for the Service’s YPO Program

These employees…

Are responsible for…

A. The Director

Approving policy and the overall effectiveness of Service efforts to support the conservation education activities and programs of these YPOs.

B. The Director – National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) (through at least one National Youth Partnership Program Coordinator from the Division of Education Outreach)

(1) Interpreting the requirements of this chapter;

(2) Coordinating all national-level Service YPO activities and programs;

(3) Providing training opportunities for Service employees who will be working with YPOs;

(4) Providing assistance to Regional/Headquarters (HQ) YPO leaders and staff, as requested;

(5) Serving as the liaison between YPO national offices and advisory boards, the Department of the Interior, and the Service;

(6) Providing assistance to resolve Servicewide issues and questions about YPOs; and

(7) Assisting with Servicewide YPO policies, data collections, and related evaluations.

C. Directorate Members

(1) Sharing responsibility with the Director to support YPOs engaged in science-based conservation education and outdoor recreation opportunities for youth; and

(2) Ensuring that there are sufficient resources, support, and oversight in place to implement effective and comprehensive YPO programs. Regional Directors must assign at least one Regional Youth Partnership Program Coordinator to accomplish this requirement.

D. Regional/HQ Youth Partnership Program Coordinators

(1) Advising managers, Project Leaders, and volunteer supervisors and coordinators on the implementation of YPO programs within the Region or HQ program;

(2) Overseeing and coordinating Regional/program activities and issues related to youth science-based conservation education programs and conservation activities;

(3) Recommending appropriate training opportunities to employees who will work with YPOs;

(4) Serving as liaisons between YPO Regional/HQ offices and advisory boards and the employees in their Regions or HQ programs;

(5) Assisting with Servicewide YPO policies, data collections, and related evaluations; and

(6) Working with the Service’s National Youth Partnership Program Coordinator on programs, activities, and issues.

E. Supervisors

(1) Supporting the Service youth program policies and procedures and allowing those employees who have an interest in working with YPOs a reasonable amount of official time to do so (see sections 1.7 and 1.8 for detailed information), and

(2) Providing the appropriate youth-related training and resources for employees to accomplish the Service’s mission.

1.7 How do supervisors determine how much official time to allow for Regional/HQ Youth Partnership Program Coordinators to spend working on youth partnerships? Supervisors should base the time they allow Regional/HQ Youth Partnership Program Coordinators to spend working on YPO responsibilities on the needs of the office, the needs of Regional/HQ YPOs, and the resources available.

1.8 How do supervisors determine how much official time to allow employees to spend working with YPOs?

A. A supervisor should base the time allowed to employees to spend working on YPO responsibilities on the needs of the office, the needs of the youth organization(s), and the resources available.

B. In some cases, supervisors may temporarily suspend permission to use official time to work with these organizations if other core conservation mission assignments need to be addressed.

C. Supervisors may provide employees with official duty time to staff YPO programs or activities, such as regional or national conferences. 

D. If an employee is performing work of this nature for a YPO as part of their official duty, then time, compensatory time, and overtime rules apply in accordance with personnel policies and guidelines.

1.9 Can supervisors require or assign employees to volunteer during non-duty hours to work with YPOs? No, supervisors may not require or assign duties associated with YPOs to employees on non-duty hours, unless mutually agreed on. Compensatory time applies.

Amended by Decision Memorandum, “Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns,” 6/22/2022